TIPS | How to improve your MTB braking technique

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Steep enough? Aaron Gwin performs during the UCI World Cup in Leogang, Austria. (Photo: Stefan Voitl/Red Bull Content Pool)
Steep enough? Aaron Gwin performs during the UCI World Cup in Leogang, Austria. (Photo: Stefan Voitl/Red Bull Content Pool)
  • Mountain bike brakes are more than powerful enough to slow you confidently, on the steepest descents.
  • But who do many riders struggle for traction when descending and trying to slow down?
  • One of the world’s best, shows you how to get much more, when pulling those levers.

Aaron Gwin is one of the greatest mountain bikers of all time.

For the last decade, the Californian rider has been Greg Minnaar’s main rival. He has also has been responsible for the resurgent interest in downhill mountain biking, in America.

Gwin is known for his powerful riding. Where many rivals are on the edge of losing control rolling down steep rock gardens, Gwin makes it look deceptively easy.

A rider who can win - without a chain

The most remarkable showcase of his outrageous mountain bike riding talent on steep and treacherous trails happened in 2015. At the Austrian UCI World Cup downhill mountain biking event that season, Gwin snapped his chain out of the start ramp and proceeded to do the impossible – winning the race, without a functioning drivetrain.

When it comes to learning better mountain bike skills, there is hardly a better tutor, than the five-time UCI World Cup series winner.

American tips, that apply to local conditions

Gwin lives in Temecula, California. And the trails he rides are very similar to South African conditions – dry and dusty.

In his latest riding tutorial, Gwin discusses and shows the ideal way to maximize your braking performance. And most of it, has to do with better weight distribution.

It's all in the ankles

Riders can pull on those brake levers with all their might, but if the bike’s pedals aren’t adequately weighted, most of the braking force is going to waste.

As with most things in mountain biking, improving braking performance when descending is simple. Just drop those heels.

Increased weight distribution (and pressure) on the pedals help balance braking power in relation to available tyre traction. On a steep and loose trail, dropping those heels help a lot. As Aaron Gwin, expertly demonstrates.

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